Houston reshaped its roster in a major way this weekend, swinging trades for offensive additions Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills and Carlos Hyde but also parting ways with two first-round picks, a second-round pick and a Pro Bowl pass rusher in Jadeveon Clowney in the process.
The regime-defining swaps on a wild cutdown day were the work of Texans coach Bill O'Brien. Houston's head honcho has taken criticism in the aftermath for waiting too long to deal Clowney and giving too much up for Tunsil and the haul from Miami.
O'Brien defended his personnel decisions on Monday, stressing that Saturday's moves were calculated.
"These moves were part of a plan, something that was well thought out, spent a lot of time on it and tried to execute the plan," O'Brien told reporters. "It's not just a plan to improve the team for 2019, it's a plan to improve the roster for years to come, giving us the ability and flexibility to extend our core players while continuing to add and develop talent."
O'Brien has been in charge of Houston's personnel moves ever since the Texans fired general manager Brian Gaine in June and failed to hire a successor. The coach is working with other Texans front office personnel to make GM decisions. Under O'Brien's leadership, Houston was unable to come to an agreement on an extension with the franchise-tagged Clowney before the July 15 deadline. That paved the way for Clowney to not sign his tag and force his way out of Houston to a preferred destination.
After attempting to send Clowney to Miami, where the edge rusher was not interested in landing, the Texans sent him to the Seahawks in exchange for a 2020 third-round pick, linebacker Jacob Martin and pass rusher Barkevious Mingo. O'Brien said Monday he liked Houston's better-late-than-never return.
"I understand everybody is going to dissect how we did it and what we received back and what we gave Seattle. In the end we did what we felt was in the best interest of our organization and our team moving forward," O'Brien said. "We feel like we got a 2020 third-round pick and we also feel like we added two players that are very versatile players. They play hard, they play with great effort, they're high-character guys and we feel like we did what's best for the team."
Regarding the players that joined Houston in Saturday's swaps, O'Brien was sunny about their potential impact on the Texans. The coach spoke highly, in particular, of Tunsil's excellence at left tackle and flexibility along the offensive line.
"I think that when you look at Laremy, yes he is an excellent pass protector, but there's so many other things he can do," O'Brien said. "He can run block, he's able to get his pads down, he works well with the guys next to him whether it's a tight end to his left or a guard to his right, he works very well with the guys next to him, he can pull out on screens. He's a very smart player, he's a very instinctive player and he's played guard before. We're not going to line him up at guard unless we had to, but he's done that before, so he's got a versatile skill set. I think that everyone is excited about adding him to the team."
The coach also expressed an eagerness for Tunsil to help mentor Houston's rookie offensive linemen, Tytus Howard and Max Scharping.
Asked how much Colts quarterback Andrew Luck's early retirement due to chronic injuries suffered behind a subpar offensive line had anything to do with the acquisition of franchise left tackle in Tunsil, O'Brien responded with an emphatic "None."
O'Brien did not say whether or not Houston was working on an extension with the 25-year-old left tackle, whose rookie deal is up after the 2020 season.
Week 1 roles for Tunsil, Stills, Hyde and others have not yet been explained, and there are still myriad questions that need answers in Houston before the Texans take on the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.
But there's no question that O'Brien feels that the Texans are better off Monday than they were on Saturday, regardless of what they lost and gained in their trades.
"We're all about trying to get better. We're trying to do the best things we can, the best decisions we can make for the team," O'Brien said. "You want to call it aggressive, then that's the stuff that's out of my control. All I can tell you is we put a lot of thought into it, had a lot of meetings about it, a lot of communication, and we feel good about where we're at."